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Saturday, 11 December, 1999, 16:25 GMT
Deaths linked to gangland feud

London gangland map

By BBC News Online's Chris Summers

A gangland double murder in London last weekend could have its roots in a blood feud going back nearly 30 years.

Two masked gunmen burst into the Beckton Arms pub in Canning Town in London's East End on Sunday and shot dead Tommy Hole, 57, and his friend from childhood, Joey "The Crow" Evans, 55.

Another man is believed to have received a flesh wound to the leg but he fled the scene before detectives arrived.

The suspects ran off through an underpass which led to the other side of the A13 dual carriageway.

Hole, a convicted armed robber and petty criminal Evans, who had been watching the Liverpool against Sheffield Wednesday match on the pub's television, died almost instantly.

Both had long-time connections to the London underworld and it was not long before theories began on the East End grapevine.

Friend of Ronnie Knight

The most popular theory stems from Mr Hole's involvement in the murder of underworld enforcer Nicky Gerard 17 years ago.

Gerard, a friend of "celebrity gangster" Ronnie Knight and the Kray twins, was gunned down on his daughter's 11th birthday as he got into his car near his home in Stratford, east London.

Ronnie Knight Ronnie Knight, former husband of TV star Barbara Windsor and friend of Nicky Gerard
His killers shot him once and chased him down the street, before clubbing him with a gun and finishing him off with another shot through the head.

Hole was arrested and charged with the murder after an identity parade but his accuser later backed down and he walked free from the Old Bailey in 1983.

Gerard himself was acquitted in 1980, along with Knight, of murdering Alfredo "Italian Tony" Zomparelli, who was gunned down in September 1974 as he played pinball in the Golden Goose amusement arcade in Soho.

Knight admitted in his recent autobiography, Memoirs and Confessions, he had ordered Mr Zomparelli's killing.

He said the Italian-born gangster was assassinated in revenge for the murder of Knight's brother, David, who died after a fight at the Latin Quarter nightclub in London's West End in 1970.

'Trouble at funeral'

An underworld source who served time in prison with Hole told BBC News Online: "There could be so many reasons for him to be killed."

He said: "He had only been out a few months and apparently there was trouble a few weeks ago when he attended the funeral of Nicky Gerard's uncle, Jimmy.

"Someone said 'What's he doing here?' because everybody knows he killed Nicky Gerard and he turned round and said 'Well, nobody's ever done anything about it'.

"So maybe somebody decided they would do something about it."

Detective Chief Inspector Mick O'Keefe, who is leading the inquiry into the Canning Town murders, said: "This appears to have been a calculated killing of two unarmed men in cold blood."

He has declined to comment on the possibility that the incident was connected with the death of Nicky Gerard, who left behind a common-law wife, Linda, and three children, Vicky, now 28, Claire, now 26, and Russell, now 31.

  • A 31-year-old man was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning and released after questioning. He has been bailed to return at an unspecified date in January.

    Anyone with information about the murder in Canning Town should contact the incident room on 0171 275 4336 or to provide anonymous information ring Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

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    05 Dec 99 |  UK
    Two shot dead in East End pub

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